Passing By A Window

Have you ever had one of those moments when you pass by a window and catch a glimpse of your reflection without recognizing yourself – albeit briefly? Please nod your head affirmatively, or I’m going to seriously wonder if my crazy level just escalated.

Is there any greater dissonance than not recognizing who you are? Who you have become? Accepting that none of us perceive ourselves as we are perceived by others, at least our self-perception should align with what we see. And I have to admit, that there are moments when they just don’t line up.

When my head insists that I can rock an outfit which a) I clearly can’t and b) is arguably no longer in style; when I sit in meetings where people moan about millenials and I wonder why they’ve skipped two generations in the dialogue (including my own – hello???); when I dance around my house (full disclosure – only the dogs witness this activity) and find myself hoping the next song is a slow one.

The moments when I realize that my children are now men. Awesome men. No longer in need of that overpowering, all encompassing love that arrived in utero. In my head I am still able to carry them on my hips, pudgy fingers around my neck, little boy sweat and kisses that smacked. And always sensing that if I hold on too hard they will have to wrest themselves from me painfully. I tried to keep my grasp loose-ish. Do they even have these reflections in their mirrors? Perhaps somewhere. Certainly not something they consider when defining themselves at this point in their lives. Nor should they. It isn’t time.

Am I the woman in the little black dress meeting Andy for the first time 23 years ago this week? That curiosity and humor and hint of possibility filling the Georgetown harbor with something unrecognizable yet familiar? I could probably fit into the dress (there was some lycra involved I’m sure), but would I recognize the woman? Sometimes, perhaps…when we dance in the kitchen to a song of Andy’s creation (don’t ask).

So many passages that define this reflection, so many exhilarating moments and sad lessons, an awful lot of pain and kindnesses of indescribable magnitude. To look in the mirror and see that I’m still evolving, the image isn’t static even though there’s something to be said for thinking one is frozen in time. The reflection is the reality – no longer eligible for the ingenue roles, juggling mom, menopausal manic, or driven senior executive. Now? Good question.

The reflection is still blurry, morphing into something gentler, arguably a little easier on the image staring back. Perhaps a little less intrepid and sensing something that haunts my thoughts in ways that are unfamiliar – the limits of time maybe?

The eyes though – the eyes I recognize – they crinkle from laughter, they well too easily, they look to the sky with such gratitude. Sometimes I don’t recognize the face in toto – I just recognize the heart. And sometimes that’s enough.
Photo on 5-25-14 at 5.33 PM

July 4th On The 7th

I know I’m a few days off – we had friends with us over the weekend, and I have yet to figure out how to secret myself away to write, while trying to maximize time with our guests. Sure, I could get up earlier still – but that’s when I catch up on reading your posts!

A weekend of weather so perfect that remaining inside would have been an insult to Mother Nature. The wind whispered its secrets through the trees, the sun stood front and center, daring a cloud to engage in a game of hide-and-seek. The clouds knew better than to try.

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We decided to watch the fireworks from a mountain overlook. Not exactly a novel idea – chairs were set up and ‘reserved’ before 9:00AM. Nonetheless, we had great seats. I brought my new (and first) camera – it’s point and shoot (because that’s pretty much the breadth of my talent). The pictures I took of the fireworks themselves are truly terrible, but I promised someone I would post at least one. Somehow the time between ‘point’ and ‘shoot’ is where I failed miserably.

I know...

I know…

My words won’t do them justice either. Our elevation was such that we were almost eye-to-eye with the fireworks. The whistle, the booms and cracks echoed in the air as thousands of stars exploded, raining down with sizzle and shine. Multi-colored or bright white mattered little; we were sitting in the sky watching magic happen all around us.

And it’s that ‘all around us’ that’s circling my thoughts this morning. To our right a group of young people were drinking a lot and talking too loud about tawdry topics that had Suz and I giggling – a lot. Behind us, people who were definitely AARP members (of greater seniority than yours truly) wore red, white and blue wigs and hats, neon necklaces and delight that a child couldn’t parallel. Children – yes, all over the place. Jumping, yelling, falling over each other and everyone else. Dads and moms, golf scores, shout-outs to kids; lovers young and old. Somehow it felt like we all huddled closer, as the temperature dropped and the winds made their presence felt. People in shorts, wrapped in blankets, waiting for wonder.

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And there was the greater wonder for me. People who didn’t know each other, acting as if they did. Friendship exchanged without names or judgment or pretense. Nothing mattered except being there for a shared purpose and an air of collective anticipation. That’s the 4th of July. The stars on the ground – recognizing that at the end of the day, we can share moments of tremendous delight and pride, decency despite differences that ultimately are not elevated to a level of such importance that they dwarf the heights of people enjoying being a part of something bigger than dissent. Lucky for you, I didn’t even try to take a picture of that.

Advice On Aging? You Can Keep It.

I have nothing against “More” magazine – in fact, I read it and applaud its mission to publish a magazine specifically designed for women who have traded their concerns about thigh-gap for hot flashes.  However, on the cover this month (in the largest font possible) is the phrase “Secrets To Aging Gracefully” and in smaller print “from real women like you”.

Please.

Let me tell you what the secrets are – exercise, eat healthy foods (eat vegan – or not), color your hair – or not, use injectables – or not, live in the country or in the city, moisturize and be happy in your skin.

Thank you very much “More” magazine.  I had no idea.

There’s something ironic about using the adverb ‘gracefully’ when one has joints that crack, a back that is willing to debate the merits of good posture, and an ever-increasing awareness that you will never be carded again.  “Ha”, I say.  “Ha.  Ha.  Ha.”

There is nothing graceful about aging.  There is grace in aging.  And there’s a rockin’ big difference between the two.

I spent a good part of yesterday at a local hospital receiving an I.V. infusion (for osteoporosis – I share this only because I don’t want you to think darker thoughts).  This will be an annual trip; it’s nothing compared to some other unpleasant medical moments I’ve had and none of them come close to the challenges others face every single day.  I may feel a little off today and I know that tomorrow will be far better.  This doesn’t even qualify as a roll in the barrel -it’s a jostle.

The infusion center is where people go to receive their chemo treatments.  On either side of me and all around me were patients watching hope as it slowly dripped into their ports.

To my left was a 67-year-old man who cheerfully told me about the hardy qualities of the liver, much of his having been removed a year ago; the 70-something woman on my right was laughing at the nurses who had to come and adjust her Taxol drip every two minutes.  These two knew each other so they just pulled me into their conversation.  They talked about their children, books, the cupcake shop in Georgetown.  Significant others and good movies.  Oncologists and naps when it rains.  Joking with the nurses and occasionally closing their eyes as the minutes dragged.  Just as I thought we were going to take a break, one of them piped up with a thought.  I kissed them both when I left.  The nurse and I hugged.  Don’t know why – it was right though.

This post isn’t about cancer.  It’s about moving forward in and with life, holding delight and intent in one hand and awareness in the other.  It’s about fighting for your life like a street brawler while handling it as a newborn child.  There’s nothing graceful about it – it’s scary and messy and fraught and unfair and arbitrary and clumsy.  It’s also magnificent and wise and proud and freeing and luscious.  Aging with grace?  It’s those moments in between the extremes when you smile and weep and whisper ‘thank you so, so much’.

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Hiding In Plain Sight

Hi everyone,

It’s good to be back – though I was never really gone.  I tinkered a bit under the hood of the karma truck, checked all its levels and kicked the tires.  And since I know absolutely nothing about cars, I’m assuming we’re good to go..

Live and Learn (davidkanigan.com) gave me a figurative kick in the butt the other day with a post containing this cartoon from Calvin and Hobbes.

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I get it – there are some who feel it could always be better.  Life is acknowledged first and provided with a caveat after (‘everything’s ok – but…’).  But.  Dangerous word I think, and one I consciously seek to avoid in my thoughts and actions.  Of course things could be better, but how flippin’ self-indulgent to diminish the reality that in and of itself it’s pretty damn good.  This morning I listened to the unscripted conversation between the trees as the wind traveled through their leaves, watching how one would nod, and another shake its leafy head.  I am sitting outside as I write to you, looking for bears from my safe perch (haven’t seen any yet) and laughing to myself as I wonder just what I’d do if in fact I really did encounter one.  The Sirs and I have been exploring the road, the foliage, the wildflowers, before returning to our aerie for a nap (them) and a bunch of books (me).

Is it perfect?  Of course not.  I can provide you with an impressive list of things that are not okay.  I’m just not sure why I would want to do that.  There are people who spend an enormous amount of time considering what wrongs have been visited upon them by others, listing shortcomings and offenses with righteous indignation.  I’ve started to re-frame the thought – what kind of person am I to others?  Am I bringing a little bit to the table that is more about others than it is about me?  I’m trying.  Because if I intend to live a good life – and I am and I do – it’s less about the injustices or pain that I have known – and far far more about the good stuff that happens every time I step outside myself.

Thanks for waiting for me to get the truck in gear – we’re heading to points north, south, east and west – though which way first, I have no idea.  There’s no GPS in this thing.  Have a great day – see you soon.

Pick A Card, Any Card…

I always wonder how magicians do it.  Being quite naive and slow to track a sleight of hand, I’m one of those excellent candidates that others shake their heads at, wondering how I could have missed it.  I miss it every time.  So when in the audience, I never volunteer.  I’m too easy.  Andy figures out all of these tricks – it’s part of that male mystique of his that requires the provision of an acceptable answer.

Lately I feel like I’m the one trying to figure out the scheme.  And as usual, I’m not exactly blinding anyone with my brilliance.  Rather, I’m letting each moment happen and have surrendered to the limits of my intellect.

In the past few weeks, there has been a health scare with my son (he’s totally fine – but if you think I could string two coherent words together at the time, you’d be giving me way too much credit).  I stayed awake – certain that if my vigilance failed for a moment, something awful might happen.  I’m not sure I was breathing, yet I must have been, ’cause I’m writing to you now.  As soon as I heard he was ok I saw myself as a puddle on the floor.  No longer with any form or substantive thought.  It doesn’t matter whether or not he understood my reaction for it wasn’t/isn’t about me – he’s the child (even though he’s an adult), I’m the mom.

One of my sons completed his MBA.  This is his second Master’s degree – both completed while working full-time at one of the most unforgiving consulting companies when it comes to time and billing (let me take that back – all professional service firms are unforgiving when it comes to time and billing).  Yes, I whooped when they called his name (but at his request, I didn’t yell “Go baby!”).  These men o’ mine are no longer men o’ mine – they are husbands first.  And I wanted my mama lion role back (with no disrespect to either one of my lovely daughters-in-law), mourned the loss of the role I know well.  Chuffing at the opening of my lair…

Andy’s parents are moving to CA to be closer to their daughter and her family.  The weather will be kinder. the opportunities greater for my father-in-law to golf, my mother-in-law to get involved in some activities.  Andy’s up there helping them get organized until he makes it home today.  We’ll go back up together on Wednesday.  I’ve been here before; there’s nothing about it that’s easy.

My cherished friend going through the ebbs and flows of possible transitions – not knowing from one moment to the next whether she’s going-along-to-get-along or passionately caring about the life choices ahead.

So I wake each day with a hint of worry attached to my coffee cup.  My shoulders a bit more bent.  Roles change all the time, relationships morph because that’s what relationships do.  The earth always moving beneath our feet and relying on our sense of balance to remain upright.

And yet…I am acutely aware that everything is ok.  I caught two blue jays yakking it up yesterday afternoon (wow are they loud).  The early morning stars shone with such clarity I wept at their beauty.  I gratefully accept the morning’s invitation.  Somewhere inside I am as full and fortunate as any one person can be.

I am going to take a page from some of my fellow bloggers and take a bit of a hiatus.  It’s not good-bye of course, just some time to fiddle with the idea of blogging, maybe change the paint on the karma truck, rotate the tires, shift gears so to speak.  It’s time – we’ve been on this road together for a long time and rather than lose the company, I’d prefer to pull over and park this baby for awhile.  Get outside, renew, re-think, restore.

And maybe, just maybe when I get back, I’ll be able to tell you just how the magicians do it.  See you soon.  Much love…m

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